Big Danged Boats, Ship In Progress: The Gnomeish Siege Machine

Big Danged Boats Progress Report

I make boats out of a combination of purpose-built resin models in 15mm scale (which there is a nice selection of, primarily through Old Glory Shipyards), or yard sale/thrift shop toy finds or other bits of castoff junk and ephemera. There’s not a lot of science to a big danged boat design. It has to be somewhat amusing and it has to be just a little different in theme and purpose from all the other ships so far. So we have the Deadnought, the Dwarven Stealth Ship Fleet, the Brothers of Lacademon, and the Iron Cheese. There’s one ship that’s been vexing me. I wanted a ship for gnomes. Not the garden variety kind, but the kind that I associate with fantasy fiction. Tinkerers.. but not very good tinkerers. They had to be capable of making something that works, but only just barely, and is huge and visual and so improbable from a physics and general mechanics perspective that if it existed in real life it probably couldn’t function. While we were waiting in line at a restaurant a while back, my eye lit on a souvenir toy rack for little kids. These were clear candy dispensers with a unique top to it. And prominent among them was a largish dayglo green boxing mitt on an extendible frame, that made a silly boyoinyoinyoing sound when you pushed a button. I had to have that. This would be the weapon of the Gnomies! It did present problems. Scale, for one thing. my gnome figures are tiny by 15mm standards. How would they look compared to a giant boxing mitt? How do you explain this thing? How do you make it work with 15mm scaled naval craft from Old Glory or elsewhere. The answer is you really can’t. You have to build something from scratch.

And so I did. The Siege Machine of the Gnomes, the Doom Barge!

Gnomeish Siege Machine
Gnomeish Siege Machine

This unlikely craft was made mostly from craft bits and a bit of a children’s toy. The tower was a wooden flower pot (I presume) turned upside down and then covered in styrene card to make it look like rusty riveted armor (when I’m done). The main weapon, the Hammer of Bulg, was originally just going to be the extended arm and glove, but I like that boiyoingyoing sound so much, I had to work on a way to camouflage the audio box in order to retain the effect. I cut a snug hole into the side of the flower pot and the back of the base of the glove device off, so it would fit inside the siege tower. The glove is functional and does extend out, sound effect and all. The color scheme will be black for the glove and rusty gunmetal for the framework. The tower will have a few more oddments added.. a ladder, some hatches, and possibly a gangway for boarding. The base of the boat is a craft picture frame, very cheap. My intention is to build a low metal shield all around the perimeter of the barge to deflect incoming missiles– you can see the forward shield is already up in the photo. Lastly, I am adding a Greek fire launcher up top of the machine on a rotating platform. This was done entirely from craft bits and will be rather limited in range but devastating in effect.

For the crew, I’m using Splintered Light’s 15mm Gnomes, which are a tad more warlike then Peter Pig’s. I can’t get away from the silly pointed hat look, but on the other hand, they are instantly recognizable as gnomes (vice dwarves). So that’s a good visual detail.

Splintered Light Gnomes

Tactically, the Siege Machine is designed to be slow and prone to breakdowns– Steam power is fairly problematic for a technological race like the Dwarves in this universe, and for gifted amateurs like the Gnomes, it’s a miracle it runs at all. The giant Hammer of Bulg will do severe damage when it hits, but a Gnomeish ship captain will have to work hard to create opportunities. The favored Gnome tactic is to trap an opponent against a shole or island and pin him there, and then pummel him to matchsticks. Gnomes will be encounterd in two castes- Blue (Engineers) and Green (Warrirors). If the Siege machine is close enough to board, the Green Gnomes will attempt a swarm atttack. Finally, the Greek Fire launcher has a short range and limited ammunition.

Overall paint job will be rusty metal for the tower, Hammer of Bulg and the Greek fire launchers, wood for the barge. I’ll let you know when the paint job is done.\